Time for some of that ‘transparency,’ Blackhawks
This situation could use an explanation from the top.
It’s time, Danny.
Is it OK if I call you Danny? Seems like everyone else does. We’ve never met and you’re almost certainly unaware of my existence. We come from extremely different worlds but do have this Chicago Blackhawks hockey team in common, even if the nature of our connections to that team are extremely different.
The reason for this, Danny, is that we all need to hear from you right now.
It’s been tough to be a Blackhawks fan for the last few years, and the lack of on-ice success is stunningly far down the list of reasons for those difficulties. We’re not going to relitigate all of those right now, because that’s not the point of this little chat. But in the last year or so, the word “transparency” has popped up in a lot of your discussions. You mentioned it when you talked about the process of hiring a general manager last January. It came up during a Q&A with the Tribune last October. The CHGO staff also referenced that word a few times in their takeaways from conversations with you.
But saying you’re going to be transparent is one thing. Actually practicing that transparency? It’s a much different beast. Now would be a great time for you to tame that one, though, because there’s an awful lot of murkiness lurking around the organization right now.
The reports came out Wednesday night that your team was not going to wear Pride-themed warmup sweaters during Sunday’s “Pride Night” at the United Center. It was reported that it was an organizational decision, citing the safety of Russian players on the team due to that law signed by Russian president Vladimir Putin last December.
But I’ve gotta tell ya, Danny: the math just isn’t adding up here.
Connor Murphy and Seth Jones answered a few questions from the gathered media on Thursday morning, offering comments so similar that it sounded like they’d sat in on the same PR briefing. But they can only be expected to say so much, as they apparently weren’t in on making this decision. Coach Luke Richardson disclosed that nugget in the comment below, and this is where things start to fall apart:
Richardson said he hasn't talked to the Russian players about this because "the organization made the decision before it got to them."— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) March 23, 2023
It was interesting to hear that, because just a few weeks ago, Murphy said that he expected everyone on his team to participate in the traditional pregame festivities for Pride Night. And Murphy’s voice has to carry weight in that locker room because, with Jonathan Toews still absent from it, he’s the longest-tenured player on this team right now.
So it sure seems like the team would’ve been on board. But Murphy and the rest of the players reportedly weren’t given the chance hop on. Instead, per the tweet below from Ben Pope of the Sun-Times, “security officials” played a big part in the process.
To clarify, my understanding is the Hawks made this decision after talking with security officials ABOUT the Russia situation, not by talking to the Russian players themselves.— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) March 23, 2023
We don’t know who these “security officials” are, but if they recommended this course of action, it seems to be an unnecessary level of concern which is disproved by what’s happened across the NHL in the last week, as several Russian NHLers have worn these rainbow-adorned sweaters that has everyone up in arms. The San Jose Sharks had two Russian players wear them last weekend. Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky wore one on Thursday night. Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin wore one three months ago and there have been precisely zero reported repercussions to him or to anyone associated with him.
Look for yourself!
And if that’s not enough, this excerpt below — or the full article here — suggests that all these alleged concerns about repercussions against Russian players and their families back home are being overblown:
weird how all the sports reporting on this missed these details https://t.co/E5HBNIBIRk pic.twitter.com/Mu89IVhGXK— Sam (@samanthacp_) March 23, 2023
So what’s the deal here, Danny?
We have no reason to believe any of the reports above are inaccurate. Your organization released a statement soon after they emerged, which seemed to be an acknowledgement that they were accurate.
If these security officials know something we did not, then tell us. If some other factor emerged that led to this decision, tell us. Come on out, Danny, and tell us what’s going on. Because, from this vantage point, it seems like the organization was misguided at best and outright lying at worst.
We all want to believe this team is heading in the right direction. But it’s been incredibly hard to do that lately for reasons related to hockey and other reasons not related.
A little bit of that “transparency” you’ve been touting would be wonderful right now.